GMA poll sabotage trial may last 5 years

By Perseus Echeminada, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 23 2015 11:01 AM | Updated as of May 23 2015 07:01 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The trial of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for electoral sabotage may drag on beyond the term of President Aquino, a court official said yesterday.

The court official, who requested anonymity, told The STAR that the proceedings may last up to five years given the number of witnesses and the tight schedule of both defense lawyers and Commission on Elections (Comelec) prosecutors.

He added the case has been dragging because of motions from the prosecution and defense panels to reset the hearing for various reasons.

Court records show that since the electoral sabotage case was filed in December 2012, out of the more than 50 witnesses, only two have taken the witness stand.

“It takes at least four months for the presentation of a single witness, so in one year the prosecution can only present up to five witnesses,” the source said.

“With 54 witnesses lined up by the prosecution, you can compute the time the court will hear the case. Definitely the trial will go beyond the term of President Aquino,” he added.

The source said that with the 2016 polls approaching, it is expected that the hearing would be delayed as Comelec officers would have to perform their election duties.

He noted that Arroyo’s trial was delayed for two months in 2013 because of the elections.

Arroyo, former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Jr. and former election officer Lintang Bedol were charged for allegedly staging a 12-0 victory for Team Unity’s senatorial lineup in Maguindanao during the 2007 elections.

The most recent hearing, which was scheduled last Thursday, was reset to June 11 after Arroyo’s lawyer Benjamin Santos filed a motion.

Santos said he had a scheduled hearing in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan.

The prosecution did not oppose the motion.

The defense and prosecution have not yet agreed on hearing schedules after June 11.

Although electoral sabotage is a non-bailable offense, Pasay Judge Jesus Mupas had allowed Arroyo to post bail after the prosecution failed to present strong evidence against her.

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